Friday, March 23, 2007

E-Documents of the Week: Reports on Murder Victims' Families, the Cost of Iraq, Toxic Pollution and Health, and Health Insurance Coverage

This week we feature four documents, each connected to a different public policy issue.

Wednesday's Death Penalty Forum featured the New Jersey Director of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), an organization advocating abolition of the death penalty. MVFR's 2002 report, "Dignity Denied: The Experience of Murder Victims' Family Members Who Oppose the Death Penalty," argues that many of the benefits won by the victims' rights movement in recent decades "are too often unavailable to victims if they oppose the death penalty." The complete 33-page report is now available online through the Cheng Library's catalog.

On March 14, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued an update to a previously published report titled "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11" and the document is now available online through the web site of the Federation of American Scientists. The 45-page report provides Department of Defense figures, CRS estimates of war costs, an analysis of trends in war funding, and estimates of future costs for the three major U.S.-initiated military operations since September 11, 2001: (1) Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) covering Afghanistan and other Global War on Terror (GWOT) operations ranging from the Philippines to Djibouti that began immediately after the 9/11 attacks and continues; (2) Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) providing enhanced security for U.S. military bases and other homeland security that was launched in response to the attacks and continues at a modest level; and (3) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) that began in the fall of 2002 with the build up of troops for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and continues with counter-insurgency and stability operations. The report includes several detailed tables and references.

On March 22, the Access Project, a research affiliate of the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy at Brandeis University that serves as a resource center for local communities working to improve health and healthcare access issued a report titled "The Illusion of Coverage: How Health Insurance Fails People When They Get Sick." The report "describes how private insurance products fail to protect people from financial hardship and guarantee access to care when they become ill or injured. The Illusion of Coverage discusses insurance characteristics and processes that cause medical debt, people's lack of meaningful choices when purchasing health plans, and the consequences of medical debt caused by inadequate coverage. It also provides recommendations on how to provide people access to comprehensive and affordable insurance products. The report is based on in-depth interviews with 45 people in seven states who accrued medical debt despite having health insurance." The full 72-page report is now available online through the Access Project's web site.

On March 22, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) and the New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC) released a new report titled "Toxic Pollution And Health: An Analysis of Toxic Chemicals Released in Communities across the United States." The report's findings are based on data provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program. Among the report's major conclusions are that industries continue to release toxic chemicals linked to severe health effects into our air and water, that a relatively small number of communities often experience the bulk of the air and water pollution, and that the mining industry overwhelmingly releases the most toxic pollution to land. The report is also critical of the Bush Administration's recent rule changes to the TRI Program's requirements that raise the threshhold at which companies are required to submit detailed reports on toxic releases. NJPIRG's web site provide the full text of the report, plus additional New Jersey-specific information including:

No comments: